August 13, 2020

"After 59 years of friendship, laughter, tears, jail cells and lost brain bells [sic], we have handed over our lovely lead singer Wayne Fontana to the big band in rock and roll heaven."

Wrote Peter Noone ("Herman"), quoted in "Wayne Fontana, British singer who topped US charts with Game of Love, dies aged 74" (The Guardian).
Born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis in the Levenshulme area of Manchester, Fontana took his stage name from the Elvis Presley drummer DJ Fontana. Backed by his band, the Mindbenders, he released his debut single in 1963 and further singles grew ever more successful: Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um reached No 5 in the UK in 1964, with The Game of Love reaching No 2 the following year and going on to become his signature song....

He was arrested on an arson charge in 2005 after setting fire to a car owned by a bailiff who had come to his house for an unpaid congestion charge fine, and who was inside the car as it was set alight. He faced a possible 14 years in prison, though was eventually sentenced to 11 months, which had already been served.
A "congestion charge" is a fee you have to pay to drive your car in Central London: "The charge helps to not only reduce high traffic flow in the city streets, but also reduces air and noise pollution in the central London area and raises investment funds for London's transport system."

I was wondering why the obituary didn't mention my favorite Mindbenders song, "A Groovy Kind of Love." Answer: Wayne Fontana had left the group by this point, 1965, and the lead guitarist Eric Stewart became the vocalist.

I've never much liked "The Game of Love" and to me "Um Um Um Um Um Um" is a Major Lance song. I didn't even know The Mindbenders had a version of it. In the UK, I guess.

I only got started writing this post because I love "A Groovy Kind of Love":

And here's the 1988 Phil Collins (which I include because I know people are talking about Phil Collins this week):

I hope that rings your brain bells.

ADDED: From the Wikipedia article "A Groovy Kind of Love":
"A Groovy Kind of Love" consists of lyrics written by Bayer Sager and Wine, with music by Muzio Clementi. Composition of the song took place at Bayer Sager's home in New York City.... The title was an early use of the slang word "groovy", and both women were interested in using the word because they recognized it as new and "happening". Wine said, "Carole came up with 'Groovy kinda… groovy kinda… groovy…' and we're all just saying, 'Kinda groovy, kinda groovy, kinda…' and I don't exactly know who came up with 'Love,' but it was 'Groovy kind of love'. And we did it. We wrote it in 20 minutes. It was amazing. Just flew out of our mouths, and at the piano, it was a real quick and easy song to write."

The melody is from the Rondo from Muzio Clementi's Sonatina, Opus 36, No. 5.... Bayer Sager originally pitched the song to pop star Lesley Gore in early 1965, but Gore's producer at the time, Shelby Singleton, rejected it, as he found the word "groovy" too slangy.
Wow! Lesley Gore! Ha ha. She rejected it. I mean her Shelby rejected it. Too slangy. I remember when "A Groovy Kind of Love" came out. I believe the word "groovy" had already become embarrassingly passé to use in your actual speech. "

Here's a list of groovy songs:
"Groovin' High'", a 1945 song by Dizzy Gillespie.
"Movin' and Groovin'", a 1962 song by Sam Cooke.
"A Groovy Kind of Love", a song written by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager in 1964 and popularized a year later by The Mindbenders. Also recorded in 1988 by Phil Collins.
"We've Got a Groovey Thing Goin'", the flip side of the 1965 hit single "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel
"The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", a 1966 song also by Simon & Garfunkel
"Somebody Groovy", a song from the 1966 debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears by The Mamas & the Papas
"Groovin'", a 1967 song by the Young Rascals
"Workin' On a Groovy Thing", a 1968 song by Neil Sedaka
"Groovy Grubworm", a 1969 song by Harlow Wilcox
"Groovy Situation", a 1970 hit by Gene "The Duke of Earl" Chandler
"Groovin' With Mr. Bloe", a 1970 hit by Mr. Bloe
"Groovy Movies", a song by The Kinks released in 1973 on The Great Lost Kinks Album
"Party Is A Groovy Thing", a 1975 song by The People's Choice
"Groovy People", a 1976 song by Lou Rawls
"Groovy Times", a 1979 song by The Clash
"Groovy Train", a 1990 hit single by The Farm
"Groovy", a 2008 song by Billie the Vision & the Dancers
AND: Here's that rondo:

MORE: Here's the first version of "A Groovy Kind of Love" — delightfully square — by Diane and Annita:


BUMBLE BEE said...

Fillin it up!

Wilbur said...

I totally agree with your preference in Mindbenders' songs. Game of Love was never a fave of mine.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Major Lance... He can dance just as good as he wants to. Great arrangement on that tune And Monkey Time. Is that racist?

brylun said...

The Um Um Um Um Um Um song I'm familiar with from the sixties was performed by Major Lance.

Rob said...

Setting fire to a car while somebody was inside. They could have used this guy at the mostly peaceful arson attempts at the Portland police union building.

RMc said...

The second refrain begins:

It started long ago in the Garden of Eden
When Adam said to Eve, "Baby, you're for me."

For the longest time, I thought the line was, "Baby, jump on me"! (Rather risque for the 60s, innit...?)

tommyesq said...

Time served for lighting a car on fire with someone inside??? Those two NY lawyers who threw the Molotov cocktail are gonna wish they had that judge!

Mr. D said...

One quibble -- "Um Um Um Um Um Um" is Major Lance. Otherwise, a great post -- those secondary British Invasion bands are always worth a listen.

Darrell said...

And now, everyone in the world is dead because of COVID.
I couldn't finish the Phil Collins cover because I feared it would be too sad.

Kai Akker said...

I'm not looking it up, but I'd swear Um Um Um etc is a Major LANCE song -- not Stewart. The most pointless trivia .... I hope I have retained it.

Kai Akker said...

Aha! The comments reveal. Phew!

Heartless Aztec said...

What a long time ago now. Time unspools.

Robert Williams said...

Major Lance(!). He definitely deserves a mention in the dispatches.

Dave Begley said...

Ann rings our brain bells every single day.

Marcus Bressler said...

One of my favorite songs. TY


Ann Althouse said...

"One quibble -- "Um Um Um Um Um Um" is Major Lance. Otherwise, a great post -- those secondary British Invasion bands are always worth a listen."

Thanks! I wouldn't have noticed I did that. I know it's Major Lance. I was just in the middle of writing Eric Stewart and "Stewart" jumped into it and I wrote "Major Stewart."

Corrected now.


Robert said...

Eric Stewart of 10cc. There is a good documentary about 10cc here.

They talk about his time in the Mindbenders when Wayne Fontana left. I always thought 10cc was mostly from the effort of Godley and Creme. Not so. Four talented guys when you throw Graham Gouldman in there. Have not heard of Graham Gouldman? You have heard songs he wrote.


Danno said...

A2 said..."I only got started writing this post because I love "A Groovy Kind of Love"

I'm surprised the word groovy is not an Althouse tag word.

Bruce Hayden said...

The thing that always amazes me in these music posts is how different my experiences were from Ann’s during the 1960s. I am roughly 3 months older than she, and a year ahead of her in school. I didn’t know who was who in the pop music scene for the most part, nor did I care. Later, I developed a taste for the music of slightly earlier artists 50s and early 60s versus Beatles and later. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have any connection to music - I sang in the school and church choirs and played French Horn in the marching band and orchestra.

I suspect that I was much less connected to my classmates through HS. I thought that the whole thing was stupid. I was always in my own little world, and ended up with a woman even more so. At times like this, I realize how disconnected I was from teen culture, when I was a teen, using Ann, in particular, but the rest of you too, as a baseline.

Kai Akker said...

---Have not heard of Graham Gouldman? You have heard songs he wrote. [Robert]

Another test of the memory storage. G. Gouldman was a credit on several of the early Yardbirds songs, IIRC. For Your Love? Heart Full of Soul? Maybe even Over Under Sideways Down?

When will it e n d ....

This one I will look up.

Kai Akker said...

Quite the Carnaby Street credits!

---At the same time Gouldman signed a management agreement with Harvey Lisberg, and while working by day in a men's outfitters shop and playing by night with his semi-professional band, he wrote a string of hit songs, many of them million sellers. Between 1965 and 1967 alone he wrote "For Your Love", "Heart Full of Soul" and "Evil Hearted You" for the Yardbirds, "Look Through Any Window" (with Charles Silverman) and "Bus Stop" for the Hollies, "Listen People", "No Milk Today" and "East West" for Herman's Hermits, "Pamela, Pamela" and "The Impossible Years" for Wayne Fontana, "Behind the Door" for St. Louis Union (later covered by Cher), "Tallyman" for Jeff Beck and "Going Home", which was a 1967 Australian hit for Normie Rowe. [from Wikipedia]

Kai Akker said...

"He was arrested on an arson charge in 2005 after setting fire to a car owned by a bailiff who had come to his house for an unpaid congestion charge fine, and who was inside the car as it was set alight."

It's that last little clause that made that sentence such a winner.

Wayne, a rebel to the end.

Fernandinande said...

"A Groovy Kind of Love" has a nifty melody but that Mindbenders version sounded more like a practice session than a performance.

Tom T. said...

Bruce, my experience with music in high school in the 80s was similar. Looking back, what gets me is the cool-chasing and the huge factional importance that some kids attached to their choice of bands and genres at the time. Now, though, all these years later, all of that music is lumped together on oldies stations, and all those bands are touring together. I've heard the Clash's Lost in the Supermarket playing overhead while shopping in the supermarket.

Temujin said...


I would have thought Donovan Leitch would have had a song with 'groovy' in it, but apparently not. He did, however, give us Hurdy Gurdy Man.

'Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love

"Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
"Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
"Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang

They don't write 'em like that anymore.

stonethrower said...

Didn't not include the best - "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches & Herb.

mikee said...

Progressive London has the most progressive taxation to travel in London. If you're a prole, take the bus or tube, because the auto taxes mean only rich people can drive their own cars in town.

Narr said...

Phil Collins? No. Just no.

That is all

Narr said...

A comment on some other comments about youth culture in high school.

Choirs? Bands? Teams? They played no part whatever in my boyhood. My best friend became infatuated with slot-cars and teaching himself guitar; my other best friend and I stuck to lead ships (Fletcher Pratt anyone?) and other nerdly pastimes. Even after we could drive.

Best Friend 1 had twin older sisters (hot-hot-hot) and they loved the Beatles, so I listened to and love the Beatles.

By h.s. graduation in '71 we had a good handful of oddballs and outcasts around us, and most of us went to the overgrown normal college down the street. From h.s. through college we listened to everything from CSNY to Parliament/Funkadelic, Traffic to Jeff Beck, Tull to Chaka Khan, Wonder to Bowie.

But I never forgot my early classical imprinting and that's what sustains me now.

Vielen dank, Oma and Aunt Louise!

Kai Akker said...

I believe you jest, Temujin, but when listened to, Hurdy Gurdy Man is still haunting.

You were polite to omit the roly poly refrain.

But that droning, ominous sound coupled with the lyrics, portentous even if silly, still gave me goosebumps. As "Season of the Witch" can still do, too.

Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast

That, from the ill-fated 1968 year, could be the refrain for the know-nothings of today, too. Today's fools imagine "ages past" as a mere 250 years ago, though. They know less than nothing about anything before that, but they know what they know about the founders and the origins of our republic. They are certain they know. Certain of those "unenlightened shadows cast." Certain of the racists, certain of the awful white men, certain of the victims everywhere else thanks to those evil founders. And oh, so certain of their own virtue.

And we are stuck with the consequences their certainties will deliver until other events can make this moment in time pass.

Joe Smith said...

The song has a kind of dated '60s vibe to it, not that it's a bad thing. The 'groovy' part keeps it in a time warp.

Collins does his best to put his '80s spin on it, but turns it into a dirge somehow. On a side note, did he ever have hair?

Second side note, I got hooked on Collins' 'Tarzan' soundtrack about six or seven years ago when I was living in a huge, foreign city and walking 6-10 miles a day. It's incredibly energetic. The guy really is a genius.

Jupiter said...

Groovy Kind of Love. I remember waking up at 7:00 AM to the radio alarm playing Groovy Kind of Love, lying there for just a moment still half asleep and enjoying the music. The way that slow, slow tempo made you sing the next line in your had two or three times before they finally got it out. The sweet guitar flourishes. Then I'd fully wake up, and realize that it was time to descend once again into the horror the grown-ups had created to torture me. How I hated them all!

rcocean said...

Even simon and grarkunle got into the groove:

"Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy…"

Usually, S&G make me want to puke, but I sorta like this one.

Ann Althouse said...

"A Groovy Kind of Love" has a nifty melody..."

From Muzio Clementi (1752 – 1832):

"A description of Beethoven's regard for Clementi's music can be found in the testimony of his assistant, Anton Schindler, who wrote "He (Beethoven) had the greatest admiration for these sonatas, considering them the most beautiful, the most pianistic of works, both for their lovely, pleasing, original melodies and for the consistent, easily followed form of each movement. The musical education of his beloved nephew was confined for many years almost exclusively to the playing of Clementi sonatas" (Beethoven as I Knew Him, ed. Donald M. McArdle, trans. Constance Jolly, Chapel Hill, and London, 1966). Schindler continues with reference to Beethoven's fondness for Clementi's piano sonatas: "For these, he had the greatest preference and placed them in the front rank of pieces appropriate to the development of fine piano playing, as much for their lovely, pleasing, fresh melodies as for the well-knit, fluent forms of all the movements.""

rcocean said...

I was irritated by the passive voice in that obit/article. Oh, the car was set alight, while the inspector/policeman just happened to be inside. How unfortunate. Just an unfortunate accident, a car self-igniting while a human was there.

Of course one also could write it as: "Upset over his fine, he attempted to murder an inspector by setting his car on fire while the man was inside." But i guess that was too honest.

Richard Dolan said...

"I only got started writing this post because I love 'A Groovy Kind of Love'."

To each her own, I suppose. The very heavy, thumpy beat made it difficult to focus on any other aspect of the song. Not good to put any part of the blame for that mess on Clementi, and invoking Beethoven, even by way of deep background on Clementi, is even more embarrassing.

Ipso Fatso said...

When they spread my ashes along the Cal-Sag Channel at 127th & Michigan outside the abandoned ACME Steel plant on the south side of Chicago, I want them to play, "Um,Um,Um,Um,Um,Um." Written by Curtis Mayfield. RIP Curtis. As for Major Lance, a buddy of my brother said, "with music that good, he shoulda been a general!" RIP Major, whose daughter is the major of Atlanta, GA.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Hurdy Gurdy Man is Jimmy Page's solo. Still fresh in my opinion.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Hurdy Gurdy Man is Jimmy Page's solo. Still fresh in my opinion.

gpm said...

I am just shy of three years younger than Althouse and apparently the same age as Narr (also gradated from high school in '71, though I was on the youngish side). When I was in grammar school (early 60s through '67), we used to spend summer nights after dark hanging out on the street corner listening to "Wonderful W L S." If you had some money, you could run down to the Italian restaurant about a block away where you could go into the kitchen to buy an Italian beef or brown paper bag full of French fries. To this day, I can sing from memory a lot of the lyrics from the songs of that era (including most of the ones mentioned here), though I am a lot spottier on who did or sang the songs. Ditto for the ones from high school through '71. After that, I pretty much stopped listening until I started making drives of three hours or more back and forth to New Hampshire in the mid-80s, so am much more ignorant of later music.


Narr said...

Here's the thing about musical influences and affinities-- the more I read and learn about musicians of any genre I have any familiarity with, the more I'm humbled (usually) by my own learned prejudices.

In my group(s), Beach Boys were NOT COOL. Or groovy. Then I read how much people I do admire admired them. (Still can't stand Phil Collins, though.)

Earlier I should have added the Allman and Doobie Bros, ZZ Top, the Moody Blues . . .

Like we had all the time in the world

Iman said...

I just couldn’t help myself, cuz I was born with a curious mind, mr.lance sang...

My favorite use of something close to groovy:

I loves people having fun!

Kai Akker said...

---RIP Major, whose daughter is the mayor of Atlanta, GA. [Ipso Fatso]

From Wayne Fontana, to 10cc and the Yardbirds, to Major Lance (with a side trip to his '60s British pianist Reginald Dwight), to the mayor of Atlanta and nearly VP candidate in the current election, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

That was a great trip! Mayor Bottoms' picture shows a marked resemblance to the old videos of her father and she just rose two or three quanta in my estimation today. Fabulous thread.

Iman said...

Groove is in the heart.

Iman said...

“Listen People” was a very good song, Kai Akker!

Not Sure said...

Was he the inspiration for Fountains of Wayne?